Favorite Espresso Blends 2011 - Page 5

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#41: Post by shadowfax »

Paradise Roasters Nuevo

Nuevo Espresso is probably the darkest-roasted coffee I've experienced since PT's Gizmo espresso, a far departure from my usual routine. On the cupping table, Nuevo has a wet aroma full of leather and smokiness. These notes are certainly present when tasting as well, though the leather in particular subsides as the coffee cools. The other dominant flavor is nuttiness: peanuts, pecan, and walnut. These flavors emerge and come to dominate the cup as the coffee cools. There is no acidity whatsoever, although there's a bit of spiced astringency that emerges in the cool cup. Nuevo has a very modest sweetness of molasses.

For Nuevo, getting shots to mirror the flavors from the cupping table is a simple enough task; balancing the flavors well, depending on your palate, is more challenging. Paradise recommends a strikingly high brew temperature with Nuevo; I was unable to find an acceptable brew recipe that included hot temperatures. For me, 197°F (slightly cool) was the magic number. At this lower temperature, normales and slight ristrettos come through with a balanced smokiness, nutty sweetness and hint of bitter chocolate. A fast-ish (24-25s), medium ristretto (18-18.5g dose, 26-28g shot) brings out a little hint of lime/citrus acidity. Going more normale gets you a slightly sweeter (peanuts and pecan) shot; going tighter/lengthening the shot gets you a more bitter cup (smoke, walnut/pecan skin). I'd also recommend going a little light on the brew pressure if you can; this softens the intensity of the smoke flavors in the cup. I would surmise that Nuevo is a perfect espresso blend for a mezcal drinker; its smokiness is reminiscent of many mezcal cocktails I've sampled. I'd further say that your preference/tolerance for such smoky spirits might be a very good predictor of your perception of Nuevo's forgiveness factor. To wit, if you have a low tolerance for smoky flavors (as I do), you will find the sweet spot for Nuevo to be quite small. If you have a preference for such flavors, Nuevo becomes far more workable as an espresso shot.

Putting a bit of milk in Nuevo changes the ballgame more than a little bit. Smoke becomes dark chocolate. Pecan, walnut becomes almonds-delicious marzipan. Nuevo is simple, comforting and deeply satisfying in milk, a pleasant departure from the fruity cappuccinos I'm accustomed to.

Nuevo is a great choice for converts from just about any mainstream coffee: it will be a major step up without being a challenging, unusual departure (in the way that espresso blends like Black Cat, Sugar Glider, and Apollo would be). If you're looking to translate a neat glass of Mezcal into espresso form, Nuevo is your ticket.
Nicholas Lundgaard

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HB (original poster)

#42: Post by HB (original poster) »

Thanks gentlemen for your comments; apologies for the delay in wrapping up this review...

I was playing with the triple VST baskets when the review started, so it wasn't hard to stick close to Paradise's dosing recommendation of 19 grams. For the Nuevo, the magic number was 197°F. If higher, the chocolates flattened. For my visiting sister, I added one sugar to her drink for an ultra sweet chocolate flavor. She commented how good it was, so I asked for a sip. I seriously thought for a moment that I had accidentally added Hershey's syrup to it since that's how I prepared my youngest son's "cappuccino". If you're a confirmed chocoholic, you'll like Nuevo.

This concludes the formal review. Comments/questions are welcome.

PS: Paradise Roasters has set up the coupon code "HB2011" for a 10% discount with minimum $25 purchase. Offer valid through Dec 31, 2011.
Dan Kehn

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#43: Post by HB (original poster) »

Sweet Tooth by Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual Coffee is one of several roasters featuring rotating single origin espresso. The next "Favorites" is Sweet Tooth:
Ritual Coffee Roasters wrote:Throughout the year, we will be showcasing eight to twelve single producers under the name Sweet Tooth, in homage to our original Sweet Tooth blend, an anti-blend that explicitly showcased the producers whose coffees comprised it. Sweet Tooth will be a rotating single origin on which we've put our stamp of approval as a great shot of espresso.

October's Sweet Tooth offering:

Near the town of San Martin Jilotepeque in the Chimaltenango department of Guatemala, Bernardo Solano grows these Bourbon trees 1800 meters above sea level. This will our third year of offering coffees from Concepcion Buena Vista. The cherries are processed in the traditional washed process, meaning that they are de-pulped to remove the skin of the fruit before they are soaked for approximately 24 hours to ferment and loosen the sticky mucilage that surrounds the bean. A veritable candy bar in the cup, with flavors of raspberry, butterscotch and coffee cake.
Dan Kehn

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#44: Post by another_jim »

INTRODUCTION: Sweet Tooth is Ritual's line of single-origin espressos, relationship coffees similar in concept to Intelligentsia's Black Cat Project, and Counter Culture's and PT's SO offerings. The one we are trying is from the Chimeltenago region in Guatemala, a Bourbon from the Finca Conception Buena Vista of Bernardo Solano. Ritual is hard core third wave, offering few, unapologetically light and acidic coffees, from Central America and Southern Colombia only, done at light roasts.

OVERALL TASTE: When brewed, this coffee tastes light and mildly vegetal, mostly of kiwi fruit and lychee nuts. It takes an aggressively high extraction to bring out any caramels or almonds, or a hint of darker toned fruit. This carries over to the espresso, where one should stick with the finest grinds and heaviest doses possible. If you do this, you will be rewarded with a honeyed shot,with hints of almond and cherry, but mostly tasting candied Kiwi. It is a somewhat startling and unusual taste, very refreshing and fun. But for me, it seems more like a once in a while treat, rather than something I would enjoy day after day.

SHOT MAKING INSTRUCTIONS The recommendation is for a VST or Strada basket at 17 - 18 grams at 198F to 200F, at 70% to 85% brew ratios. This is close to graven in stone, since the sweetspot is tiny; but we all found that slightly higher temperature shots, 200F to 201F, extracted more nut and caramel flavors, and tasted more balanced. Low doses and longer shots are just blah. Higher temperatures and higher doses get woody and ashy fast. The coffee is also hopeless in milk. The key is to dose high and grind fine.

WHO SHOULD BUY IT At low doses, this coffee tastes dull. At high doses, it takes a good grinder and precise gear to get it well enough extracted to taste sweet and bring out all the body and caramels. Even then the taste will be on the light side, more like the fruit and nut course, rather than the pastry one. However, it is a very fine coffee; and for those who enjoy light and bright espresso, and have the gear to do it right; Sweet Tooth will be a fun series of SO espressos to follow.
Jim Schulman

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#45: Post by RapidCoffee »

Ritual Sweet Tooth SO Espresso (roasted Oct 4, tested Oct 10)
coffee dose: 15.0g in a 53mm basket (equivalent to 18g on a 58mm basket)
espresso weight: 18-22g (shot volume 30-35ml)
brew ratio: 70-85%
shot time: 30-35 sec after appearance of espresso droplets on bottom of basket
temperature range: 88C-94C (190F-201F) in increments of 1C

Grinder: Robur with doser and (full) mini-hopper.
Espresso machine: La Spaziale S1 V1, mechanical preinfusion device, blind basket brew pressure 9.25bar, 53mm double basket, bottomless portafilter.
Ground coffee into tared basket and adjusted dose to exactly 15.0g.
Very brief WDT stir with needle, then tamped to ~30#.
Pulled shots into prewarmed shot glass on tared digital scale, stopping at blonding (30-35sec).
Visually, all pours were good to excellent.
For tasting, poured shot glass into prewarmed demitasse cup. Sampled straight, then with 1/2t sugar, then with small amounts (1oz) of microfoamed milk.

Tasting notes
Jim has nailed this one, and I don't have much to add to his excellent description. Sweet Tooth is a light, clean roast of an acidic Guatemalan SO coffee. This roast has a narrow sweet spot, and is sensitive to both temperature and brew ratio. Higher brew ratios (75-80%) are recommended. The mouthfeel diminishes rapidly at lower brew ratios, and the pours become thin and watery.

Only rarely do I encounter a coffee that makes me wish for finer than the 1C temperature control of my Spaz S1. Ritual Sweet Tooth is one of those coffees. For straight shots, my best results came at 90-91C, with a small amount of sugar to counter the acidity. There is a fruity flavor profile of unripe raspberry, kiwi, and green melon. For milk drinks, there is another sweet spot at 93-94C. Hints of chocolate and walnuts emerge in milk. However, this roast does not shine in milk beverages. The coffee flavors get lost in anything beyond a macchiato (over an ounce of milk).

I usually associate Guatemalan coffees with non-espresso brew. Indeed, Sweet Tooth produced a creditable Aeropress brew.

A challenging SO coffee that makes a nice change of pace from the classic northern Italian "comfort food" espresso blend.



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#46: Post by cannonfodder »

Ritual Coffee Sweet Tooth

Sweet tooth is a bit of a change for me. Historically I have a preference for dry processed African coffees so switching to a wet processed Guatemalan is a big change in direction. I usually reserve wet processed coffee for press pot, not espresso.

Sweet Tooth is a medium roast coffee, I would guess city+ roast. A nice milk chocolate brown with no surface oils with the light tan splits which is a signature of a wet processed coffee. As mentioned, it is a single origin espresso from the Buena Vista farm in Guatemala. Sweet Tooth is also an evolving coffee subject to change thought the year so this iteration will not be around long, so try it while you can.

Sweet Tooth has a very clean flavor profile, I would call it a refreshing coffee. It is laid back and easy going verses the deep in your face flavors of a dry processed blend espresso. Ritual calls out 'flavors of raspberry, butterscotch and coffee cake', odd because I got almost none of that in the cup. The cup has a medium-high acidity with what I would call green fruit flavors. As others have pointed out kiwi is a dominate flavor, but I was also getting some white grape and even a touch of melon (honeydew?). I did not pick up on the raspberry or butterscotch although the cup would have butterscotch like sweetness. The crema from the coffee is good but don't expect a half inch thick persistent layer, it is a wet processed coffee so it has a lighter mouth feel and lighter crema.

I found my best results coming from an 18 gram dose pulled at 199-200 for 23 grams extracted in 23-25 seconds. At temperatures over 201 the blend goes ashy and temperatures under 198 it will pucker your face with sourness and acidity. It is a somewhat demanding coffee, if your extraction is off or temperature not quite right it will let you know in the cup. When right, is quite sweet and refreshing but you will not want to use this coffee in any amount of milk. The flavors are so clean and crisp that even a couple ounces of milk will wipe out the coffee. The flavors simply get lost in the heavy milk. Keep this SO in straight espresso form. It also makes a nice press pot.

Shots were pulled on an Elektra A3 with a LaCimbali Max grinder.
Dave Stephens

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#47: Post by shadowfax »

Ritual Coffee Roasters Sweet Tooth

Ritual's latest iteration of their signature espresso blend, Sweet Tooth, reminds me fondly of an old discussion thread, Left coast coffee. It's an amusing piece of HB forum history, but also a good reminder that Sweet Tooth's flavor profile isn't a recent thing for Ritual. "Fruit-juice," indeed.

On the cupping table, this coffee is very clean, especially for espresso. It has honey sweetness and ample acidity-subtle sweet orange, as well as some red fruit-in good balance. But the bass tones are very quiet: present, but mild; they really let the acidity and sweetness take center stage here.

This profile translates nicely to the straight shot. The body is clean and delicate. The fruit tones are mainly of tart apple and kiwi with just a touch of orange citrus. Roast favors are all but absent unless you pull it too hot. The sweetness is honey or white sugar-anything but caramel or molasses.

My pointers for Sweet Tooth are pretty close to the previous reviewers: shoot for a mid-range ristretto (70-80%); grind very fine, down-dosing if needed (I liked 17-18g on my setup)-a fine grind is more important than a high dose; and dial in by temperature if possible after you are in the range on grind and flow, because the temperature sweet spot is narrow on this coffee. Although the brewing guidelines suggest 198-200F for this coffee, my experience is that this coffee really wants to hug 200°F. My straight-shot sweet spot was a 17g dose at 200.5°F pulled in 25-28s for a ~75% brew ratio. This was with the VST 18g basket; I suspect that a higher dose would be required with most other baskets.

Sweet Tooth makes a good americano that's nice to sip alongside a straight shot. The flavor balance shifts a bit; the red fruit is a little more noticeable and the sweetness more pronounced. In milk, my straight-shot profile above disappears very quickly. However, if you up-dose further (say, +1g), coarsen the grind (optionally-in any case, the brew ratio should still be at least a little higher), and pull a bit longer (~30s) you will get a heavier shot that adds some red fruit tones that will cut through the milk a bit. This produces an extremely sweet, creamy cappuccino that's great for spouses who, say, don't usually like coffee. I also noticed that up-dosing and making cappuccinos gets much better as the coffee ages. My best ones were about 7-8 days post-roast.

For my part, Sweet Tooth is right up my alley: sweet, bright, refreshing and fruity, with extra points for its tropical fruit acidity (as opposed to the more typical citrus acidity). This profile isn't for everyone, however, especially those looking for a more classic cup. Also, given this coffee's narrow sweet spot, particularly with respect to temperature, Sweet Tooth may prove difficult to work with on less-consistent equipment.
Nicholas Lundgaard

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HB (original poster)

#48: Post by HB (original poster) »

Thanks Jim, John, Dave, and Nicholas for posting your reports. Forum members are invited to ask questions or post their own experience with Sweet Tooth from Ritual Coffee Roasters.
Dan Kehn

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#49: Post by innermusic »

Received a 12 oz pkg of Sweet Tooth, roasted Nov 20 so unfortunately it's already 10 days old. Such are the vagaries in shipping to Canada, further complicated by my rottie-shepherd being in the front yard when the postman arrived (adding an additional 2 day delay for the package to go back to the post office!)

Beautiful coffee, by the way.

After reading this thread, I decided to keep dose, basket, and temperature constant (20g, 200 F, VST 18g basket), and adjust grind, timing, and brew ratios only. Here are some observations:

1. 22s, 50%. This shot was too fast. Nonetheless, nice fruity shot.
2. 24s, 62%. More complex flavors.
3. 27s, 90%. This one was too much for me. Powerful, acidic. I think I need to try a brew ratio closer to 80% next time.

I went thru more than half the bag, adjusting the grind. Personally, my ability to taste diminishes with the number of shots tasted, no matter how much palate clearing I do. So by the time I found the grind I wanted, my brain and buds were toast. Nevertheless, I found this to be a great coffee. Kind of a fruity, sweet and sour sauce, nice and round, very little chocolate and really just hints of darker tones. I'll try again later when my taste buds have calmed down.
Steve Holt
Trent Hills, Ontario Canada
Vivaldi II, Macap MXK, Baratza Vario

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#50: Post by innermusic »

Worked my way thru a pound of Espresso Nuevo by Paradise. I was not able to get it into a form I enjoyed. While it definitely did improve at lower temps (196-197), for me it still had a bitter ashy finish I did not like. However, in milk it was another story - like a mocha - the nasty parts were gone, and in their stead I found a really nice balance of coffee spice and chocolate milk.
Steve Holt
Trent Hills, Ontario Canada
Vivaldi II, Macap MXK, Baratza Vario